Angela Merkel yesterday described the concept of multiculturalism as ‘living a lie’ and finally admitted it was time to end the relentless flow of refugees into Europe.

The German Chancellor confessed her country would be ‘overwhelmed’ unless she took action as the number of asylum-seekers arriving there this year topped one million.

Since she dramatically opened Germany’s doors to refugees in August, the continent has been besieged with hundreds of thousands of people wanting to get there.

But ahead of an EU summit on Thursday, she restated her long-term opposition to multi-culturalism, saying: ‘Multi-kulti leads to parallel societies and is a living lie. Integration is the opposite.’

In the face of mounting anger from members of her own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and among European leaders in neighbouring countries or those bordering the EU, Mrs Merkel yesterday vowed to stem the flow of people.

Speaking to the party faithful at its annual conference, she repeated her catchphrase from throughout the migrant crisis, ‘we can do this’, but effectively admitted Germany could only cope if she wrestled back control of the influx.

‘A continuation of the current influx would in the long-term overwhelm the state and society, even in a country like Germany,’ she said.

The leader, once known as the ‘Iron Chancellor’, won rapturous applause after announcing the volte face. However, she resisted calls to set a limit on the number of arrivals.

‘We want to, and we will, noticeably reduce the number of refugees,’ she told the conference in Karlsruhe. ‘With an approach focused on the German, European and global level, we will succeed in regulating and limiting migration.’

Mrs Merkel attempted to defend her August decision, which drew hundreds of thousands to Europe, claiming it was a ‘humanitarian imperative’. She appealed to the party’s sense of history, saying that the same strength that allowed it ‘to rebuild from the rubble of the war to create the economic miracle, and to go from division to a reunified country’ would get Germany through the crisis.

She said she was banking on a multi-pronged approach to cut migrant numbers, urging bolstered protection for the bloc’s external borders, support for Turkey to host refugees long-term and a long-shot bid for a distribution scheme among EU member states.

She also touted a range of measures already undertaken in Germany including speeding up the deportation of failed asylum applicants. Mrs Merkel, who has been the country’s leader for a decade, tried to paint an upbeat vision saying it was no longer the ‘sick man of Europe’ and ‘should be a country that is open, curious, tolerant and even exciting’.

At the end of the speech there was an eight-minute standing ovation that came to an end only when Mrs Merkel returned to the microphone to ask people to stop. But the Protestant pastor’s daughter, who grew up in communist East Germany, has seen support for her party fall since the refugee crisis erupted in the late summer.

The European Commission will today set out controversial plans for an EU border and coastguard force that would have the power to act in countries without their consent. Some are likely to resist the plan, which will not affect Britain because it is not a part of the border-free Schengen Zone.

In Greece the EU has pledged to spend £58million to house migrants even as it seeks tougher procedures for asylum-seekers travelling to the continent. A rent subsidy programme will support up to 20,000 people next year.

Thousands of stranded refugees are currently staying in old venues from the 2004 Olympics, at camps on Greek islands or in tents pitched in city squares and parks in Athens.

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